Japan gov't allows taxi drivers to refuse passengers not wearing masks
Japan's transport ministry on Wednesday approved a measure allowing taxi drivers in Tokyo to refuse passengers who are not wearing face masks.
The move came amid the spike in new COVID-19 cases in the capital.
Ten taxi companies in Tokyo, including a major one, requested the ministry to review the rules last month.
In Japan, taxi drivers are essentially banned from refusing passengers unless they are heavily intoxicated or violent to drivers, among other special circumstances.
However, the Tokyo taxi companies had asked to change the rules as some drunken passengers speak aloud inside their cabs without wearing masks, raising fears that it would increase the risk of COVID-19 infection.
According to the transport ministry, the measure is aimed at urging passengers to wear masks and to protect not only taxi drivers but also the next passengers.
Other taxi companies and public transport systems are expected to follow the move.